The art of marketing is largely art of brand building. When something is not a brand, it will probably be viewed as a commodity. Then price is the thing that counts. When price is the only thing that counts then the low cost producer wins. But just having a brand is not enough. What does the brand name mean? What associations, performances and expectations does it evoke? What degree of preferences does it create?
1. Choosing a Brand Name
A brand name first must be chosen then its various meanings and promises must be built up through brand identity work. In choosing a brand name, it must be consistent with the value positioning of the brand. In naming a product or service the company may face many possibilities: it could choose name of the person (Honda, Calvin Klein), location (American airlines), quality (Safety stores, Healthy choice), or an artificial name (Exxon, Kodak).
Among the desirable qualities of a brand name. Some are:
- It should suggest something about the product benefits.
- It should suggest product qualities such action or color
- It should be easy to pronounce, recognize and remember; short names help a lot to recognize the product to the customers.
- It should be distinctive.
- It should not carry poor meanings in other countries and languages etc.
Building Positive Associations
The best known brand names carry associations. For example, here is a list of words that people say they associate with McDonalds:
- Happy Meal
- Ronald Mc. Donald
In trying to build a rich set of positive associations for a brand, the brand builder should consider five dimensions that can communicate meaning:
- Attributes: A strong brand should trigger in buyers mind certain attributes. Thus a Mercedes automobile attributes a picture of well-engineered car that is durable, rugged and expensive. If a car brand does not trigger any attribute, then it would be a weak brand.
- Benefits: A strong brand should suggest benefits, not just features. Thus Mercedes triggers the idea of well performing car that is enjoyable to drive and prestigious to own.
- Company Values: A strong brand should connote values that the company holds. Thus Mercedes is proud of its engineers and engineering innovations and is very organized and efficient in its operations. The fact that it is a German company adds more pictures in the mind of the buyers about the character and the culture of the brand.
- Personality: A strong brand should exhibit some personality traits. Thus if Mercedes were a person we would think of someone who is middle age, serious, well-organized and somewhat authoritarian. If Mercedes were an animal we might think of lion or its implied personality.
- Users: A strong brand should suggest the type of people who buy the brand. Thus we would expect Mercedes to draw buyers who are older, affluent and professional.
In summary, brands when their very name connotes positive attributes, benefits, company values, personality and users in the buyer’s mind. The brand builder’s job is to create a brand identity that builds on those dimensions.
2. Choosing Brand Elements
Brand elements are those trademarks devices that serve to identify and differentiate the brand. Most strong brands employ multiple brand elements. Nike has distinctive “swoosh” logo, the empowering “Just Do It” slogan and the mythological “Nike” name based on the winged goddess of victory.
Brand element can be chosen to build as much as brand equity as possible. The test of the brand building ability of these elements is what consumers think or feel about the product if they only knew about the brand element. A brand element provides positive contribution to brand equity.
Brand Element Choice Criteria
There are six criteria in choosing brand element. The first three can be characterized by brand building in terms of how brand equity can be build through judicious choice of brand element. The latter three are more defensive and are concerned with how the brand equity contained in the brand element can be leveraged and preserved in the face of various opportunities and constraints.
- Memorable: How easily is the brand element recalled? How easily recognized? Is this true at both purchase and consumption? Short brand name like tide, Nike can help.
- Meaningful: To what extent is brand element credible and suggestive of the corresponding category? Does it suggest something about a product ingredient or a type of person who might use the brand?
- Likeability: How aesthetically appealing does consumers find the brand element? Is it inherently likeable visually, verbally, and in other ways? Concrete brand names such as Wheel, Sunsilk etc evoke much imagery.
- Transferable: Can a brand element be used to introduce new products in the same or different categories? To what extent does the brand element add to brand equity across geographic boundaries and market segments?
- Adaptable: How adaptable and updatable is the brand element? Betty corker received 8 makeovers through the years-although she is 75 yrs old, she doesn’t look a day over 35.
- Protectable: How legally protectable is the brand element? How competitively protectable? Can it be easily copied? It is important that names that become synonymous with product categories such as Kleenex, Xerox, Jell-O, etc retain their trademarks rights and not become generic.
Brand elements can play a number of roles. If consumers do not examine much information in making their product decisions, brand elements should be easily recognized and recalled and inherently descriptive and persuasive. Memorable or meaningful brand elements can reduce the burden on marketing communications to build awareness and link brand associations. The different associations that arise from likeability and appeal of the brand elements may also play a critical role in the equity of brand.